How do I begin a project?
You don't really have to do anything prior to our first meeting, but if you're eager to get started, you could ask family members if there are particular stories they want to be sure you talk about, locate memorabilia like old diaries, letters, family trees, etc., or begin jotting down people, places, events, etc. that stand out in your mind.
Once I decide to go ahead, what happens?
The next steps are deciding on the scope of the project (e.g., the number of interview sessions), signing the contract, and making a deposit toward the fee. Then we schedule our meetings and off we go!
Where are interviews conducted?
Wherever the narrator feels most comfortable. Normally this is at home. We need a quiet space where we won't be disturbed or distracted.
If I want a book, how long does it take to publish it?
A typical book project might take anywhere from 4 months to 18 months, depending on how close together the interviews are, the length of the text, number of photographs, etc.
How much does a personal history cost?
A personal history can usually be tailored to your budget—it depends on the scope of the project and the finished product. A manuscript based on four hours of interviews could cost as little as $4000, while a lengthy manuscript that is then published in, for instance, a leather-bound book with 50 colour photos, could run as high as $40,000. A final word about price: To commission an artist to paint a portrait could cost at least $50,000. Think of your memoir as your portrait painted in words.
Can I sell my book?
Yes. You own the copyright, so you are free to market and sell your book commercially. Once the book is delivered to you and you make the final payment, you have no further financial obligation to Heritage Memoirs.
Do you sell gift cards?
Absolutely! Available in denominations of $50, $100, $500 or $1000. Truly the gift of a lifetime.
I've already started writing my memoirs. Can you use what I've written?
Absolutely! Your writings can usually be incorporated into the narrative. I will do some editing so everything fits together seamlessly.
I really don't remember much about my younger years. Is that a problem?
You'll be surprised at how much you remember once you start telling your story. But if you don't know much about your childhood or younger years, that's just fine. This is your personal history the way you remember it.
Can you do books about people who have passed away?
We can put together a beautiful tribute book that could include memories from family, friends, co–workers, etc., letters and emails, documents, awards, etc.
If I change my mind about something I talked about, can I take it out of the manuscript?
You have complete control over what ends up in your manuscript. At the review stage, you can change or delete anything you want. Every project includes a Heritage Memoirs editor's professional editing for accuracy, grammar, spelling, style and narrative flow.
My family would like to have my grandfather's story told, but he lives in a different city. Do you do phone interviews?
We can do phone interviews, or we can travel to where he lives, or some combination thereof. Once the interviews are done, the rest of the project can be handled via mail and email.
What will you ask me in the interviews?
Interview questions are tailored to your own unique life experiences. We never dive into waters that are uncomfortable for you, unless you want to.
Why should I hire a personal historian when I can write my own memoirs?
One reason people hire a personal historian is that it's easier and more fun to tell your story and have someone else pull it all together for you. Another reason is that a personal historian who's hearing your story for the first time will ask questions that ensure all the details are included. In addition, your project will get finished in a timely, professional manner. But by all means, if you can write your own memoirs, go for it!
Are you a genealogist?
No, but I have a keen interest in genealogy. (I had my own family ancestry researched and found my roots include both Cree and Sioux First Nations women. My ancestors also came from Iceland and Scotland.) The difference between a genealogist and a personal historian can be generally described as one having to do with tracing family roots through the deceased, with the other helping the living tell their life stories.
What are your qualifications?
For the interviewing, editing and writing process, I bring more than 30 years experience in book, magazine, and website publishing. For many years I interviewed people in order to write their profiles for various publications and became adept at getting the essence of the person's story and writing it in a compelling manner that would engage the reader. I have a diploma in oral history and have almost 10 years experience helping preserve personal and family histories. From 2008 to 2010 I was on the board of directors of the Association of Personal Historians
and have served as its newsletter editor, editor of the Toolkit, and as regional co–ordinator. My business success has been noted in such publications as the Wall Street Journal
, the Toronto Star
and MORE magazine, and I'm the author of Start & Run a Personal History Business
. I was the recipient of the 2011–2012 award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Personal History given by the Association of Personal Historians.
My experience in the corporate world–about 20 years–gave me project management skills and computer skills as well as an understanding of business structure, corporate culture, environment, etc.
My life experience, with its shares of ups and downs, raising children, losing parents, my own journey into self–realization, has provided me with perspective, empathy, and a desire to help others live life to the fullest. In order to do that, I believe the best way is deep thinking about the life you're leading. Many clients have said the process of telling their life stories started out as something their children wanted them to do "for the family," but it soon took on an added dimension–getting in touch with who they really are.